Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drawing with children

When I used to teach art to children K-3, I remember how much fun they used to have. Their imaginations free and and their enthusiasm high and always eager. Occasionally there would be the one child that was reluctant to try a project, a different medium or did not know how to fear of getting something wrong. When I moved to teaching middle school... boy, was there a difference. The problem became what i like to call... the "I CAN'T DRAW!" syndrome. Its a shame the word " I can't... So many years of how to properly spell words, how to properly memorize this or that, and the loss of I think...belief. No santa, fairies, or mermaids...... and the kids got so caught up on what things should look like, what things should be... real life.

When I look at honeypie's drawings, there is such a sense of communication...wanting to show me what she saw the other day, wanting to remember something and drawing it. Like her own mental snapshots. Her wild imagination takes her all over the world and beyond... under the sea, in outer space...or right at home with family.
We began drawing when she was months old. I just gave her a crayon and soon after a brush. I just let her organically experiment with the feel of paint and introduced her to all kinds of paper. (I loooveeeee paper).
She never drew on on the walls strangely enough....
When she was stuck... I'd gently guide and encourage her but I never drew anything for her.

honeypie: I can't draw a square
me: do you want me to guide you?
honeypie: ok...
me: you start with a line. can you draw a line?
honeypie: yes
me : oh!! then you definelty will know how to draw a square... its 4 lines!!!
(her eyes widen and her mouth makes a giant "O")
me: its up, across, down and across ... like 2 letter "L's" (I like to use lots of visuals)
me:... you try
and I talk alot about patience and there are lots of "look at you's" and she is very excited and proud when she accomplishes it.
When bigger things come along... like drawing animals, trees or things that are not in front of you or things that require imagination... I go about it a bit differently.
Honeypie: I want to draw a tree.... but I don't know how...
me: ok... what kind of tree?
honeypie: an oak tree
me: old oak? big trunk?
honeypie: no... baby one
me:so how should the trunk be?
honeypie: small
me: ok.. show me the trunk.
(she draws the trunk ... 2 lines side by side)
me: great! now what else do we need?
honeypie: leaves
me: just leaves? or would you like branches too? like the oak we saw in the park the other day?
the one you said was kind of spooky?
honeypie: yes!!! with branches!
(she draws some lines out of the trunk )
me: and what kind of leaves does an oak tree have?
Honeypie: kind of in and out in and out spiky (she is stacing the air with her finger)
me: ok... lets see some. What color? is it in the fall or summer?
honeypie : fall... so red and brown
so our conversation continues like this until she has drawn her tree. I might touch her paper with my finger to touch an area, to talk about height or width... but i never take a pencil and my hand and show her how it is done. She has told me before " you do it". I respond..." no.. you can do it, its your drawing ... i draw mine, my way and you draw yours your way and this is your creation... you are the artist of this piece.

Art is such a personal thing. Such a personal expression... vision. Alot of times when you have art that is "a craft" ... like a project you might do at the library story hour for example or coloring in coloring books... everyones work can tend to look alike, its very defined and that is fine and good and fun but it is also good to mix it up with some imagination and free creative work too. (so you can get out of the "this is what it needs to look like" mode...gets your creative juices flowing... its individual.)

I like to keep a nature journal. (i'll post about it later since spring is approaching and it is a great thing to do daily or when ever you are outdoors). I would like to start another type of journal... a type of diary but with pictures in which honeypie and I record what we did during the day, favorite things we say or how we were feeling... (i'll post about that later too...)
The idea of a nature journal is that you can sit outdoors and stop... look...listen. Pay attention to something interesting... a worm on a leaf, a bird on a tree, moss, bark... etc. and sketch it. Use your own eyes to see, then draw. I myself keep a travel journal when ever i travel. I have sketched many beaches, scottish sheep, hills in morocco, castles and even food i have eaten. Its not only relaxing but it gets your hand used to movement and trains the eye. I would like to start one with Honeypie this spring.

Maybe we can all do it together...

Here are some great book ideas to get you and your child started in some drawing adventures...

Ish by Peter Reynolds
This book is about a boy that questions his ability to draw and how things are suppossed to be, and his sister opens his eyes to something more important than getting things "just right" and he begins to think... " ish" -ly.

"The Dot" by Peter Reynolds, is about a girl's art journey of surprise and self discovery in finding your own rules!

and "art" by Patrick Mcdonnell... about a boy named art, doing art! and his adventures in his pure joy of creation! (beautiful illustrations)

You do not have to be a so called "artist" to draw, or a teacher to teach.
Art just is .... anywhich way.... have fun!

Here are some of honeypie's more recent drawings... skippyjon jones and his family, mama, honeypie and the baby and dog she wishes we had... also chippy..our outdoor chipmunk/so-called "pet"... (just emerging out of hibernation)

Here are some drawings done about half a year ago... space inspired...

and some nature inspired...

Wishing you happy drawing adventures, together with your child!

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